9 February 2024

Draft Independence and Ethics Standards for the Assurance and Preparation of Sustainability Information

The International Ethics Standards Board for Accountants (IESBA) has published two consultations (Exposure Drafts, EDs) on amendments to the Code of Ethics (Code):

Both consultations were closely coordinated with the International Auditing and Assurance Board (IAASB). Comments are requested by May 10, 2024 (Sustainability) and April 30, 2024 (Experts).

ED Sustainability

The ED Sustainability contains independence and ethics standards for sustainability assurance and sustainability reporting. After the IAASB had already adopted a draft standard for the assurance of sustainability information in the summer of 2023 (ISSA 5000), the IESBA is now following suit with its draft under professional law.

Like ISSA 5000, the proposed framework is designed to be profession agnostic, i.e. the standards are intended to apply not only to the profession but also to other service providers. IESSA also explicitly covers the Group Audit context.

The aim of these standards is to curb greenwashing and improve the quality of sustainability information in order to promote public and institutional confidence in sustainability reporting and auditing.

To coincide with the launch of this consultation, the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) has announced its intention to require national accreditation bodies worldwide to use the IESSA proposed by the IESBA when accrediting and approving conformity assessment bodies to carry out audits of companies' sustainability information.

ED Expert

The ED Expert sets out a professional law framework to assist professionals in assessing whether an external expert has the necessary competence, skills and objectivity to enable their work to be used for its intended purpose.

The IESBA will hold a series of webinars on the consultations and publish additional information material in the coming weeks. The IESBA will provide details at a later date.